Jungle World: Day 2- Continued

-I-

Looking out the Observation viewport to see a jungle still sent a sense of wrongness down Chief Engineer Adams spine. Taking a breath before continuing his report, "So as you can guess Major, Normandy will never fly again without a drydock ship and mass effect lifters taking her into orbit." The look of sadness of Adam's face was only partly obscured by the large bandage covering the right side. The injury reminding Kaidan that everyone in Engineering was knocked around hard in the crash. The chief engineer was lucky, he lost two crewmen in the subdeck and three more were in med-bay. "The good news is the emergency generator can be repaired within five or six days."

The chagrin look on Adam's face raised Kaidan's eyebrow. "Why do I get the feeling there is a but?"

Adams let out a little chuckle at being caught, "It's the batteries sir, they won't hold out that long. We have maybe three more days even at our current minimal power levels." continuing on quickly, "Ken and Gabby have an idea for a solar collector to keep the minimal systems online. We need to shut down the AC, it's too much of a power draw. It'll get hot in the Normandy without it, but the vents will still pull in fresh air from outside. The water purifier doesn't require much power, but it'll operate slower than normal, so I suggest we ration water as well as our food stocks."

"I'm talking about rations with Garrus next." Typing a note into his Omnitool Kaidan continued, "Tell Ken and Gabby to get on that solar project. Let me know if there is anything you guys need to get it, or the generator, functioning. Liara should be done with the supplies inventory today." Standing to shake hands with the engineer Kaidan noticed the odd look in Adam's face.

"You know major, I never got to thank the Commander properly for all those upgrades to the Normandy he did over the past year. If it wasn't for them we'd be in terrible shape now. Well, you would, everyone in Engineering would have been killed when the Crucible's plasma wave hit us."

With a deep breath Kaidan locked his expression on his face. "He is taking care of us even now." before his throat completely choked up, "Thank you Lieutenant."

Adams opened the door and saw Garrus turn the corner headed his way. "Just in time Garrus. The Major and I just finished."

Kaidan heard the exchange. Quickly wiping the tears and masking the pain from his face before Garrus or Adams noticed. "Garrus, come in." Taking note that Garrus' eye piece was missing and without it the Turian looked strange.

"Hell of a day Major." Garrus' voice took Kaidan back to Earth. Shepard and Garrus at his sides as they looked at the Conduit beam 300 meters ahead. Anderson behind them as they watched Harbinger land protectively next to the Conduit. That terrible flat screech howling from the Reaper. . .

"Major?" Garrus' voice shook Kaidan back to the present.

"Yeah, hell of a day and today doesn't seem to be less. . . interesting either." with a sigh and turning to look out the window to hide his tears from Garrus, "Tell me you've got some good news. I've had enough of bad news for awhile."

"Good enough I hope." sitting down on the couch "With just Tali and I needing Dextro based foods our stocks should last us at least a year if we ration. We already know the planet is Levo based but even that stock could last a few months with your numbers before you'd need to eat local food." Glancing over at the Major he caught Kaidan wiping his eyes, "Our stock of Canadian Lager is however, on short supply."

Kaidan appreciated the joke but needed to remain focused. Finally trusting his voice not to break, "A year? That is good news. Gives us time to get the QEC going, or dig out the Kodiak and get some help, or get rescued." Kaidan knew was rambling, and sounding a bit desperate, so he stopped talking.

"It gives us time." Garrus agrees calmly in his metallic sounding voice.

Getting back to their current predicament, "It gets more fun." turning to look at Garrus, "According to Adams, we'll also need to ration water until the generator fixed." Starting to pace in front of the window, "Also, I think we can move the non-perishable food to. . . " Garrus and Kaidan continue their meeting.

-II-

Out in the hot and humid jungle, James, Javik, and Private Westmoreland were conducting the survey around the Normandy. The Private using her Omnitool to scan a piece of fruit. Her voice light, "It may look strange, but it checks out as edible."

"We need to secure a perimeter around the Normandy." in Javik's strange dialect James thought it sounded like a scolding, "Not look for fruit, Human." that confined it was a scolding.

Taking note of Westmoreland's expression James spoke up first, "Take it easy Javik. It's all part of the survey, besides it probably tastes better than ration bars." smiling at the Private, "Isn't that right Beth?"

Looking at her two companions, "Javik is correct too sir. We should consider making a clearing around the Normandy as a security perimeter."

With a grin and a wave of his hand, "Both of you are too uptight." in his best airy voice. They were right of course, setting up a perimeter was the next step after finishing the survey. He and the Major had already discussed it, "First we need to finish this initial survey. Beth, mark the location of that fruit tree and grab a sample. Let's get this done." smiling and winking at the Private, "Before the rest assume we've been eaten by the locals."

Javik looking confused, "What locals?" James and Westmoreland shared a look then a laugh. The three continued on into the jungle.

-III-

Using her biotics to re-stack boxes and crates, Liara was making good time with the inventory. There was a set of large boxes in the back of the supply room that caught her eye. "Glyph, inventory those two large boxes on the port side." The glow of her VI assistant buzzed around the cargo hold toward the direction instructed.

"Their packing-chip states they are protein growing chambers from Smith-Agra Industries." Glyph states in its electronic monotone.

With a perplexed look, "What are 'Paste Factories' doing on the Normandy?" Not that she expected Glyph to have the answer, but the question jumped from her mouth anyway. Continuing her train-of-thought, "If we can get them running that could solve our long term food problem for Tali and Garrus." Protein Growing Chambers, or Paste Factories, were in essence small nearly automated food generators that made a thick protein paste. They take months to get the initial batch grown, but as long as they're given feed-stock they'll continue to produce a ready-to-eat, or drink, paste. Originally designed by Humans for the first slower than light exploration ships. They were largely forgotten once Humanity had discovered the Mass Relays and FLT drive technology on Mars. Years ago, the quarians had learned of the technology and contracted Smith-Agra to modify the units to Dextro protein. The latest models could be set for either Levo or Dextro and were much smaller and faster than the original models. Rumor was that nearly every quarian ship had at least one unit on board to offset their food needs.

Glyph's voice interrupted her train-of-thought, "It was Commander Shepard."

She didn't even try to hold back the shock, "Excuse me?"

"Several weeks ago, EDI identified several potential issues in transporting, sheltering, and feeding the Krogans armies. When EDI informed Commander Shepard of these he ordered EDI to make any preparations necessary." Spinning past the last obstacle Glyph came to eye level with Liara, "EDI took it upon itself to 'Prepare-for-the-worst'."

Crossing her arms and tilting her head, "'Prepare-for-the-worst'? Now, how would you know EDI said that?" Glyph's eye just looked at her. . .

-IV-

With the reddish sunset streaming in from the skylight, Kaidan sat at the end of Shepard's bed. Taking a deep breath he noted again how the air still held Shepard's musky scent. The room was a mess and looked wrong without the light from the fish tank. Protective plating covered the glass when the Normandy was at battle stations, lucky for the fish inside as the glass had broken in the crash. Without the light, the VI feeder and oxygen pump was a low enough power draw that Kaidan couldn't bring himself to order Adam's to turn it off. An excuse? Maybe, but they were Shepard's fish and he'd lost enough of Shepard for a lifetime, he was going to keep what he could.

Sadly, there was no such protection for Shepard's models. With a wan smile, he turned the still intact model of the SR-2 in his hands and remembered how giddy Shepard was whenever he purchased a new model. The night he and Shepard assembled the Quarian Liveship playing through his memory. Tears forming ini his eyes, "What are you doing in here Alenko?" he asked the empty room with a sad sigh.

Most everyone else was on the crew deck getting dinner and though his stomach growled, he had no appetite. He knew the doctor would be bugging him to eat and she was right, he'd used his biotics enough today that his blood sugar was crashing. At least the migraine hadn't came today but was still there waiting in the center of his head. Setting the model gently aside, "All right, time to get back to work." saying to himself.

Clearing his throat and reactivating the recording chip on his Omnitool, he resumes his audio log, "Day two continued. Tali feels there is yet hope for the QEC which is good as Cortez says the Kodiak will take a least a month to dig out of the cargo hold much less repair. Liara found two Paste Factories. . . " Kaidan recording the day's events as he fell back to lay on Shepard's bed, staring out the skylight at the darkening sky.